The Arapaho Indians of Colorado

admin November 1, 2010 0

The Arapaho Indians are a tribe of Native Americans that historically live on the eastern plains of Colorado and Wyoming.  They were loosely aligned with the Sioux and close allies of the Cheyenne tribes.  There are three Algonquian languages on the plains.  The Arapaho were one and the other two were the Blackfoot and Cheyenne.  By 1850, they had divided into the Northern and Southern Arapaho.

Since 1878, the Northern Arapaho has lived with the Eastern Shoshone on the Wind River Reservation, which is the seventh largest reservation in the United States.  The Southern Arapaho live with the Southern Cheyenne in Oklahoma.  Their members are enrolled as a federally recognized tribe.  The tribes are the Cheyenne and Arapaho.

There is no direct historical evidence to suggest when and how the Arapaho entered the Great Plains.  Before entering the Great Plains, they most likely lived in North Dakota and Minnesota.  Before the European invasion, they lived in Nebraska, Colorado, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Kansas.  The women made the tipis they lived in from bison hides.  Before they were forced onto a reservation, they followed the great buffalo herds.  They had to travel so to make it easier on them to pack and go, they made their tipis from bison hide.

It has been told that a whole tribe of Arapaho could be pack up their homes and belongings and be ready to go within an hour.  In the wintertime, the band split into little camps sheltered in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.  In the springtime, they came back together in large camps to hunt buffalo.  In mid-Summer, they traveled into the park regions of the Colorado to hunt mountain herds.  They returned to the Plains in late summer to autumn for ceremonies and collective hunting.

The Arapaho originally used dogs to pull the travois with all their belongings but when they saw the European horses, they realized that they could travel faster with horses.  They would primarily raid the Pawnee and the Comanche to get horses.  Later they became traders and often sold furs to other Indians and the Europeans.  The children often fished and hunted with their fathers.

The most famous time in history was the massacre at Sand Creek in 1864.  The governor wanted to hold title to the resource-rich Denver-Boulder area.  A soldier that wanted to be a war hero massacred a band of elderly men, women, and children.

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